Korei was just 5 years old when she started to develop angry-looking bruises. For weeks, she had complained of being tired, and something as simple as resting her hand against her cheek would result in dark, deep bruises. Her mother, Rhonda, took her to the pediatrician, where tests revealed Korei’s platelet count was zero. She was immediately sent to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.
At St. Jude, doctors determined Korei had aplastic anemia, which is a rare disease where the bone marrow’s stem cells do not make enough new blood cells. While it is associated with some cancers and cancer treatment, it is not considered a type of cancer.
Korei’s treatment for aplastic anemia has included blood transfusions, platelets and fluids. Her counts have improved, but she’s still at risk for bleeding and developing infections. Korei has daily appointments at St. Jude and also attends first grade through the St. Jude School Program by Chili's.
Because the majority of St. Jude funding comes from everyday people, St. Jude has the freedom to focus on what matters most — saving kids regardless of their financial situation.
Families, like Korei's, never receive a bill from St. Jude for treatment, travel, housing or food.
“We’re blessed to have St. Jude,” said Rhonda.
While Korei, who is now 8, is definitely a girly girl who adores rainbows, tutus and high heels, she also likes to play video games with her three brothers. Recently, Korei attended the St. Jude PLAY LIVE event on campus, where she flexed her video game skills. For Rhonda, events like St. Jude PLAY LIVE are more than just playing video games. “These opportunities give the kids a moment to be a kid again,” she said. “They can laugh and not worry about treatment. It’s a moment of peace.”
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